Dear Khaled Hosseini, will you be Kashmir’s saviour?

Published: May 26, 2015
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Multitudes have stories of despair and solitude to share – from travelogues to historical anecdotes to poems, like birdsongs composed by unsung poets in a rich language, Urdu.

Multitudes have stories of despair and solitude to share – from travelogues to historical anecdotes to poems, like birdsongs composed by unsung poets in a rich language, Urdu. And all this because Kashmir is a novelty, a messed up story of a nation which once had borders stretching up to central Asia, but now it is torn into pieces.
PHOTO: AFP

Dear Khaled Hosseini,

I regularly follow your page and have read all your books. I must say, it’s been an honour. Recently, I saw a short video, some narrations, and a few pictures of your work regarding Syrian refugees. I am impatiently awaiting a detailed account and I am more than desperate to uncover the reality about the Syrian refugees.

Being a Kashmiri and residing in Karachi and Lahore, I dare invite your pen to a misery which is larger than the academic and legal definition of a refugee. The United Nations (UN) probably calls them Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and hence the title drops to a lower level of mercy and compassion. Reasons for the UN doing so are understandable in a political context, yet the misery we encounter knows no politics and understands no legalities.

Our world has nothing to offer them except pushing them back into the same callous hands that further their pain and agony. Even if our crisis is a worldly concern, everyone seems comfortable in conveniently ignoring it. It seems as if they are suffering from an illness, probably collective dementia.

Kashmir is not a story about a border dispute between two countries or an administrative anomaly – it is the dying question of the lives and deaths of millions, elbowed away by political hoodwinking, lost in the labyrinth of officialdom and it is slowly fading away from our memories, even its own natives.

Kashmir is definitely on the UN agenda and resolutions were passed by the Security Council pledging a plebiscite for all the parts of Kashmir which have conveniently been divided amongst India, Pakistan and China. Amongst the backdrop of the Middle East and South Asia’s ambitious nuclear plans, Kashmir remains a burning and forgotten landscape.

The people of Kashmir who were displaced during the uprising in the early 90s are now living in various camps which are not worthy of even being called a camp. They mock the official name of Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir) to Azab Kashmir (painful Kashmir). Amongst the long list of things they have lost, their wits stay intact.

Kashmiri refugees are on top of every ‘to-do list’ of every new government in Pakistani Kashmir. These refugees get a monthly allowance from the government budget and have limited access to basic health and education, somewhat lesser than what common Kashmiri citizens have. Their camps certainly do not compare to the hellish Jalozai camp. One can see a few tin roofs, broken or choked drains in the streets, houses which have not been plastered, a private school, few old versions of rusted Suzuki vans and a mosque with loudspeakers. Yet they are in misery, pain and suffering and none of this suffering is physical.

They are in their own country, have a Kashmiri nationality, and speak the same language, a language rich with history and literature. Yet, they remain to be strangers in their own homeland, living a parallel life along river Jhelum in shackles called the Mohajir Camp. They are lesser citizens, probably sons and daughters of a lesser God.

And all this is because Kashmir is a novelty, a messed up story of a nation which once had borders stretching up to central Asia, but now it is torn into pieces.

Who will tell their story to the world?

Multitudes have stories of despair and solitude to share – from travelogues to historical anecdotes to poems, like birdsongs composed by unsung poets in a rich language, Urdu.

Has anyone read or heard them?

Will anyone ever get a chance to?

Who can afford the pain of understanding words which cry out and images which narrate the century-old story of tyranny, cruelty and injustice?

Are you the one, Khaled Hosseini?

A Concerned Kashmiri Citizen

 

Tausif Khawaja

Tausif Khawaja

An engineer by profession, he lives in Karachi and Lahore. An Urdu-poem writer who gets published in leading literary magazines like Funoon. Currently, he is senior advisor on a USAID-funded education program for the Government of Sindh. Collection of poems is under compilation. He tweets as :@Tausifkhawaja (twitter.com/tausifkhawaja)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • azab kashmiri

    Hi …assalam o valikum…..

    I have an idea in mind if kashmiris want to get azaadi……….

    Firstly…There must be an ideginious independence from pakistan i.e. pakistan must set free both areas of kashmir i.e. POK and Occupied Gilgit Baltistan….than India will have to do something…..and either it will have to handle other areas by force..which might not be possible….so pakistan..the champion of human rights and plebiscite and the country that was created by Allah himself….should be at forefront to free kashmir…..Recommend

  • koshur_batta

    and where will the hindu’s and the pandits go? I suppose they’ll be killed as usual. That seems to be the norm.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    Dear Tausif, I feel your pain. UN resolution reads, Pakistan troops will vacate occupied region along with non-Kashmiris Pakistan has settled in Kashmir. India will then conduct plebiscite in a united Kashmir. Hope Khaled will get the ball rolling with your help. I am waiting with bated breadth.Recommend

  • Kamal Yaar

    Here
    are my thoughts on Kashmir which I had published before too.

    Kashmir is seen in India from Muslim prism. If Kashmiri Muslim leave
    Indian then so will all Indian Muslim. Modi treatment will take into affect as
    he said on television. In 1947, British were ruling and had British Army, there
    was Gandhi, there were Muslim Army and Muslim police still along with Hindus
    million Muslim died. Today, No British, No Gandhi, No Muslim Army and No Muslim
    police in India. What can happen, only your elder generation can imagine. Just
    ask any Indian Muslim if they like Kashmir to go separate. Kashmir or Muslim
    problem is only in three districts in India and has been fully contained by
    India. It has given rise to $40 billion defense budget and that is likely to be
    $100 billion in few years and a specialized all India level police force called
    NIA with hundreds and thousands of Jobs. India is not Pakistan where
    Jihadist are revered. Jihadists in India or in non -Muslim world are hunted
    like mad dogs and killed on sight. Kashmiri Muslim are proving to be useful
    idiots. $100 billion Defense budget involves lot of corruption $$$ for Indians
    and lot of manufacturing jobs for western countries. I think it will best
    for sake of Indian Muslim and for peace in the region if Kashmiri Muslim
    migrate to Pakistan. It has happened before and it will happen again.
    Otherwise, accept best possible autonomy for Kashmir under Indian constitution
    and make peace for their children and for themselves. If countries were made on
    desire to people, then Karachi, Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang
    (Uyghur)would be independent countries in our region. By the way, Kashmir’s
    Muslim population is less than Karachi’s.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    I suggest pakistan save its own citizens first. the ordinary citizens must get succour from their own leaders first and foremost. Then pakistan can think about their ‘brethren’ in other nations.Recommend

  • Zalmai

    Khalid Hosseini barely comments on the plight of Afghans, mostly Pashtuns that are brutally slaughtered by all and sundry and you want him to write about Kashmiris and that too Pakistani Kashmiris. Recommend

  • Khan

    Gilgit and Baltistan was never part of Kashmir. It was merged by into Kashmir by th e BRITS in late 1800s close to 1900. So yeah forget that part and talk about the rest. We are happy with being considered part of Pakistan.Recommend

  • khan Kashmiri

    Gilgit and Balistan has a border with China so it become occupied hahaha. We indian occupied Kashmiris want to become part of Pakistan. Had enough of Indian army massacre. We will be free , long live Kashmir long live Pakistan.!!Recommend

  • Kashmir Jannat Nazeer

    Firstly Kashmiris must be asked to poll out their option, it will be the only solution my friend, not one sided actions of Pakistan will do good if Indian forces keep oppressing Kashmiri voices like they have been doing since 1948!!!Recommend

  • Zalmai

    Khalid Hosseini is a sectarian who hates Pashtuns. First and foremost, he needs to pay attention to the plight of Afghans and then he could pen an article about others.Recommend

  • usman

    Tausif, you know Kashmiris are given special privileges in government positions. They are a chosen people in Pakistan in the form of affirmative actions. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers have died in liberating and attempting to liberate Kashmir. Azad Kashmir has the entire governance to itself – there are not 700,000 soldiers surrounding them like Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistanis have spent blood and treasure often responding to your call. We gave refuge to close to a million Kashmiris escaping during partition. Mohajir is word with great meaning alluding to hijrat. We took on a neighbor as an enemy 10 times our size for your sake. We have raised your case in a hundred international forums a thousand times. We have pivoted our entire foriegn policy for you.

    Sometimes I wonder? what is the point when you don’t even want to integrate with Pakistan. If this is your attitude, I wonder why we shouldn’t just make a peace deal with India and get in return immense economic benefits, security and peace that would go along with such an arrangement. This article has really made me completely rethink Pakistan’s love for Kashmir. It appears you just want tag us along to help you break the shackles of the Indian union only to discard Pakistan once the fighting is done.Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    You are living in a fools paradise. All trade between Pak and China passes through Kashmir. Without this region ,Pak cant connect with China.Independent Kashmir is a nightmare both for India and Pak .Where will Jammu’s hindus go?Why would they live in free Islamic Kashmir? Why have the refugees migrated to Pak in first place?Arent they the one who forced Pandits to leave Kashmir?Any third person or UN while listening to above self pity story of above refugees will also listen to Pandits stories. India will take back Azad Kashmir refugees and provide them well.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Ah, a decent comment from yourself!Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Theres nothing wrong with saying long live India either. Please dont be like those who HAVE to hate on another country just to prove love for their own. Those people dont lead happy lives.Recommend

  • azab kashmiri

    Never my friend..papistanis dont consider u there part,…that why u are not even a province…remember..u are unfinished agenda…from Indian side…one day or other Allah will take care of u…Recommend

  • Humza

    You are right but an Afghan refugee in North America is in a good position to understand the suffering and challenges. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, only Pakistan was there to give refugee to Afghans, including Pakistani Pashtuns in KPK who opened their homes and hearts to millions of refugees. Pakistan was destabilized due to the influx of millions of these refugees and serving as a front line state. Even though, they helped defeat the Soviet Union, Pakistan paid a horrible price and lost trillions. Kashmir is an issue from the time of partition and the people were never given the chance to join Pakistan as promised. The British and the Indians together tricked the people since they were against Pakistan from the start and wanted it to implode but it did not happen. Kashmir and its people are closer to Pakistan by geography, culture, religion and ethnicity so it is only natural.Recommend

  • Ram

    Usman bhai I agree with you and it coming from an Indian, People of Kashmir needs to understand they are just being played by Pakistan Army and Indian politicians for there own benefit, Kashmiri muslims many of them separatist and former terrorist are living happily in India and supporting Pakistan.

    If you live in Pakistan you should be loyal to the pakistan which has given you shelter and you can not work against Pakistan, you need to understand Muslim population of India is divided twice now they are split among three nations and what would get by making another majority Muslim country

    I am also a fan of Khaled Hosseini and met him once in his book tour, he made it very clear that he keeps his religion at home where it belongs so don’t expect him to get any religious sympathy because you are Muslim

    If a Sikh can be a prime minister of India and Muslim a president then what is the problem with Kashmir Muslim, how do a Kashmir Muslim different than 140 Million muslims living in IndiaRecommend

  • Headstrong

    Not that anyone is seeking certificates from anyoneRecommend

  • نائلہ

    Something you are yet to prove. Come back when you have some :) Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Practise what you preach please. Don’t have one yardsticks for yourself and another for others. Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Mr “Headstrong”, unless you can prove from my comments (which btw are available for viewing unlike YOURS) that I am a hypocrite, then please stop talking. You are making a fool of yourself.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Now now. Don’t get all worked up. I did prove it to you a couple of blogs ago And I don’t need to go into your profile to prove anything – you do a fine job just by your posts. Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Sorry, but other than you, nobody else has given me certificates. But I’m back, just the same :-)Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Nope. its all in your head.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Ah denial. Always a good refuge….Recommend

  • An Indian

    All the pain and suffering that so-called Kashmiris or their advocates in Pakistan cry about due to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir having been divided into two has a solution very much in the reach of the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis simply need to vacate their aggression of 1947-48 that they carried out against the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and let the whole of Jammu and Kashmir reunite under the terms of Instrument of Accession as signed by then Maharaja Hari Singhji with the Indian Union.

    Instead of doing this very doable and simple task, the pakistanis have been trying to move heaven and earth using what not…Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    why kashmir has to be islamic republic. it can be just a nation state like any other central asian countries. hindus can live as equal citizens like in lebanon, dubai etc.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    most horrible and racist comment i have ever seen. kashmir is the land of kashmiris. i even support kashmiri pandits living in kashmir. but the majority want to be part of pakistan. so it be let decide its fate.Recommend

  • dania

    Oh really.. and muslims will allow that will they?Recommend

  • Dan

    The muslims are not true Kasmiris.. theye’re immigrants that forced their way in uninvited long ago, the Pandits are the true sons of Kashmir and the Pandits don’t want to be merged with pakistan (in fairness, who in their right mind would? ) So as long as one single Pandit exists who wants to continue being Indian, it’s fineRecommend

  • seismann

    Indian Kashmir has a special status under article 370.An army of 1.3 mllion soldiers can’t afford to post 700,000 in Kashmir.That is a typical Pakistani exaggeration. Ahmadis and Shias along with other religions would never agree to join Pakistan where mullahs are after their blood.Recommend

  • seismann

    Same goes for Baluchistan.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    there are always some minorities who would oppose, but its the wish of majority which must be fulfilled. but ofcourse the lawful rights of the minorities have to be protected. Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    if you just study, then you will see all the muslim states are formed by the ideology of nationality, not religion (exp pakistan, as it was an exceptional case.)Recommend

  • Jayman

    Dear Khaled Hosseini,

    Can you please save Pakistan’s neighbors from terrorism emanating from there? Every minority group has been decimated. Maybe you can fix it by flying a kite or something?Recommend